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Construction in Ireland is moving the dial in welcoming women leaders to drive strategic growth for their organisations.  Over the past year, senior appointments been made in the big construction companies and representative bodies, with women taking up these coveted positions.  According to the latest figures available from the Central Statistics Office, on a seasonally adjusted basis the number of women employed in Irish construction reached 14,400 in Q4 2021. This represents 9.1% of the total construction workforce in the country. It is also the highest proportionate level since the CSO started tracking construction employment in 1994.

Collen Construction, one of the country’s longest established building firms, has appointed Kara Stuart as its first chief executive.  In the business since 2006 Kara is tasked with leading the management team through the next phase of Collen’s growth in Ireland and internationally.  Kara is a chartered company secretary and governance professional. Collen Construction is active in construction life sciences, data centre, power infrastructure and commercial sectors and has grown from a smaller general contracting company with separate property development and design/engineering capabilities, to a large tier one general contractor with operations in Ireland, UK, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland and over 350 employees.

Figure 1: Kara Stuart, CEO, Collen Construction

Joanne Treacy, recently appointed as the Head of Southern Region Services for the Construction Industry Federation, is keen on attracting more women into the industry.  This is the first time that a woman has been appointed to the role and Joanne says she is “excited about what that means for the sector”.

Traditionally, the construction industry has been male dominated, but there is a wide acceptance that women in the construction sector adds more value to the industry.

If we want to build holistically, we need all the input of both males and females,” insists Joanne.

“A more inclusive workforce benefits us all.”

Figure 2: Joanne Treacy, Head of Southern Region Services, Construction Industry Federation (CIF)

JJ Rhatigan & Company (JJR), one of Ireland’s leading construction companies announced the appointment of Deirdre Bennett as its first-ever Chief People Officer (CPO).

In this newly created role, Deirdre is responsible for providing strategic and operational HR support to the business, as well as overseeing all aspects of employee engagement and development as the company – and indeed the industry – continues to evolve and transform.

The construction industry globally is undergoing a huge transformation right now and JJ Rhatigan is committed to leading this talent and technological change in Ireland and the UK.  As we continue to grow and evolve as a company, it is crucial that we have a dedicated leader in place to ensure that our employees are engaged, supported and empowered to succeed. Deirdre’s extensive experience in human resources and leadership makes her the ideal candidate for this role.” Ger Ronayne, JJR CEO.

With over 20 years of experience, Deirdre is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management and is certified in Strategic Workforce Planning. Her proven track record of success in creating a positive and inclusive culture, and in driving employee engagement and retention spans the financial services, pharmaceutical and aviation industries.

Figure 3: Deirdre Bennett CPO and Ger Ronayne CEO, JJ Rhatigan & Company

Lorraine Brady is the Tender Desk Director for BAM UK & Ireland, with responsibility for leading a high-capability function on behalf of the UK & Ireland Division. This critical role involves the development and implementation of organisational capabilities, processes, and systems to support the UK&I Division to deliver best in class proposals and bids that meet the requirements of our clients and aligns with the overall strategic direction of the Division.

Lorraine leads a geographically diverse team providing support and independent challenge to a broad spectrum of bids within BAM UK & Ireland. Her expertise adds value to build a high-quality order book for BAM, through support and independent challenge seeking continuous improvements to add value, achieve consistency and drive improved results.

Lorraine started her career in architectural design and progressed rapidly into design, project and bid management, working for global Engineering Procurement Construction Management (EPCM) companies including CH2M (now acquired by Jacobs) and Fluor. This experience greatly amplified her ability to successfully execute projects based on solid planning, achieving project objectives and exceeding company performance goals.

Lorraine’s project delivery expertise across the full project life cycle has afforded her an excellent understanding of client awareness (“voice of the client”), enhanced assurance of successful project outcomes, and the criticality of instilling a culture of continuous improvement.

Figure 4: Lorraine Brady, Tender Desk Director for BAM UK & Ireland

Kate Fahy became the first female licenced crane operator in Ireland, aged 18. Destined for a career in medicine, a chance summer job with BKRN Ltd changed all that.

 “People say it’s inspirational, but I don’t see any difference in me or one of the lads doing the work. But if it does help another young woman to take the step and get into the industry than I’m only happy to help in that”.

“I just love working in a practical environment, outside, physically doing things. If I was stuck in an office I would crack up.”

Figure 5: Kate Fahy, Crane Driver

The future is looking bright for Construction in Ireland.  Women need to be in more visible roles within the industry.  Not only in the C suite but front at centre where women can be inspired to pursue work that is traditionally associated with men.

Prepared by Future Cast, 02 August 2023

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